The School of Architecture at Northeastern welcomes its first research fellow, Mia Scharphie, to the program this fall. As a scholar-in-residence, Mia will be focusing on architecture and built environment designers, who in the face of challenges of relevance and financial sustainability, are developing new, more entrepreneurial practice models.
These firms, such as MASS Design, Utile, and developer/designer firms such as Flank, are innovating on the traditional model of design practice to have more impact, more of a role in decision-making and greater financial stability. The firms are developing new approaches to project initiation and delivery in diverse ways–from opening new markets, to changing their relationship to issues of liability and funding. Yet these firms share one common trait: They take on an entrepreneurial mindset, initiating multilayered projects that combine business, design, public policy, social service and environmental agendas. Instead of waiting for a brief to be brought to them, they identify problems, and propose solutions, clearly demonstrating the value that design can bear on important issues. Mia’s research will act as a ‘snapshot’ of a rapidly emerging field, rigorously investigating the opportunities and challenges, facing the spatial design professions as they redefine their value offering. The research will reveal skill sets and frameworks critical for rising architects to develop if they are to have an impact.
Mia Scharphie is a landscape designer who comes to Northeastern with professional experience at the nationally-recognized nonprofit design firm Public Architecture, as well as at the SWA Group in San Francisco and Houston, TX. Mia’s teaching experience includes curriculum development and teaching assistance for a new Harvard College course on innovation and design through rapid ideation. She is a founder of the Proactive Practices research collaborative, which was formed in 2012 to identify and publicize emerging models of financially sustainable, social impact design for the built environment. Mia received her master in landscape architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and her undergraduate degree cum laude in Urban Studies from Brown University. She has received a number of honors and awards including Phi Beta Kappa, residency in the Harvard Innovation Lab, and fellowships from the Dorot Foundation and the Roothbert Fund. Mia’s writing on issues of equity in design has been published in the Christian Science Monitor and GOOD Magazine.